7 charged in pill mill operation

Defendants face federal indictments

Headline Goes Here

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice, seven people have been indicted on federal charges for their participation in the illegal dispensing and distribution of oxycodone, among other offenses.

Jason Boyd, 42, of Davie, Jason Rodriguez, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, Vijay Chowdary, M.D., 69, of Boca Raton, Harish Chowdary, P.A., 64, of Fort Lauderdale, Amanda Bozer, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Nestor Merces, Jr. 35, of New York, and Hector Bruno, 35, of Pembroke Pines are all charged with various crimes including conspiracy to distribute, dispense and posses controlled substances, maintaining drug-involved premise and money laundering.

Mark R. Trouville, DEA Special Agent stated, "This is a text book example of an illegal prescription drug trafficking organization. These rogue doctors and greedy drug dealers tried to make a pill mill look like a legitimate business. The days of profiting from these crimes have come to an end for these seven defendants. The diversion of pharmaceutical drugs remains a priority for the DEA and our law enforcement partners in South Florida. We will stay committed to ridding our communities of those who look to become rich from the diversion of powerful prescription medications."

While Bruno remains a fugitive, the other six defendants all appeared in federal court on Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale.

"I'm extremely proud of the hard work and dedication our investigators have put into building a solid case against these suspects," Sheriff Scott Israel said. "This group is made up of drug traffickers passing themselves off as businessmen and medical patients and unscrupulous clinicians pretending to be medical professionals. They did all of this to further their criminal enterprise without concern for the people whose lives they were putting at risk."

The indictment alleges that the defendants, without legitimate medical purpose, offered patients prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances through Intracoastal Medical Groups, Inc., in Broward County, since October 2010.

According to the press release, charges state that people seeking to buy large quantities of the substances travelled hundreds of miles to obtain the illegal prescriptions at the clinic.

It is reported that employed doctors would prescribe the oxycodone without medical necessity. The defendants also made and used false MRI reports, and also disposed of urinalysis that showed the tested patients were cocaine users, among other drugs.

The clinic had what were called "sponsors" who would pay for medical expenses for visits for a group of people in return for all or a portion of the pills prescribed.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, "As this case demonstrates, federal and local law enforcement continue to stand united to tackle the pill mill epidemic that has plagued Broward County and our state. Together, we are making a positive difference, as we continue to bring down these unscrupulous doctors and drug dealers who seek to hide behind a medical license. Pill mill operators be warned: we are not done yet."

If convicted, each defendant could face up to 20 years for conspiracy to distribute, dispense and possess oxycodone, 20 years for distributing, dispensing, aiding and abetting, 20 years for maintaining a location for the distribution, and Boyd faces up to 20 years for money laundering charges.

Copyright 2013 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.